Samsung is abandoning its own operating system Tizen for smartwatches, and is starting to develop Wear OS together with Google. The feeling that we are in the theater of the absurd, since the offer from Google is weaker in all aspects, without exception, does not provide any advantages – less battery life, worse implementation of additional functions, as well as everything related to health. In the race of smartwatch platforms, Google’s position looks unimportant, let’s take a look at the statistics from Counterpoint.
As you can see, there are no solutions from Google, first place goes to Apple, then Huawei comes with its RTOS system, followed by Samsung on Tizen, even Fitbit uses its own OS. Google wanted to fix the situation for a long time, but it couldn’t be done normally. Even renaming Android Wear to Wear OS did not help and looked like a rearrangement of the terms, but not a change in their sum. Instead of cosmetically updating the name, the approach had to be changed.
The next step was the purchase of Fitbit. Once a leader in wearable electronics that grew from a start-up to a few dozen people, it has become a laggard and has consistently lost the market in favor of both Apple and other companies. Fitbit’s outlook has been overwhelmingly negative. The purchase of the company by Google looked interesting only for Fitbit, here I remember the eternal – two chickens will not make an eagle. But for a while, the simple addition was a large market share for Google, and the company could also be transferred to Wear OS in order to consistently lose Fitbit customers who were already disappearing. In a word, some kind of hopelessness with no particular hopes for a revival of the situation.
Google historically does not know how to create hardware, does not understand it and does not even want to think about it. At some point, this resulted in the fact that Android began to develop within the framework of cooperation with Samsung, since the latter understands hardware and can indicate the direction of development. At the moment, this collaboration is already about five years old, and Samsung is increasingly influencing the way Android becomes. It’s funny, but the experiment turned out to be very successful, and the winnings of both companies here are undeniable.
It is worth remembering that the first smartwatches from Samsung were on Android, the company then switched to its own solution, we had good material on this topic.
Smartwatches from Samsung were and remain a good offer, they have almost everything you need for life out of the box. In recent years, my watch has been one or another Galaxy Watch, for example, now it is a titanium Galaxy Watch3.
A problem can be considered a variety of additional applications that are present in the store from Samsung, the most popular category is watch faces. But there is no such variety of software as on the Apple Watch, there is no integration with the watch. For 90% of users, this is not necessary, but the fact itself remains so, there is more additional software in the Apple Watch, and usually it is made more interesting. This is Tizen’s Achilles heel and has not changed in any way in recent years.
The history of cooperation between Google and Samsung looks like a full-fledged partnership, in which Samsung is on the side of creating the hardware of smart watches, partially influencing the interface, software chips. But Google brings voice control here (they have it cool), the very core of the system and, most importantly, the approach to creating additional applications, that is, the Play Store will be flooded with software that will look clearly more interesting than that on Tizen.
Historically, Wear OS has always used chipsets from Qualcomm, they were not the best hardware, they were characterized by short battery life, and gluttony. Google’s reference design for smartwatches has always included Qualcomm’s chipsets, and their development hasn’t been overly interesting. Now Google’s cooperation with Samsung suggests that there will be an alternative – the Exynos smartwatch platform is very good and clearly outperforms Qualcomm in terms of battery life. For Samsung, this means increased sales of smartwatch chipsets for third-party companies, with approximately 15-20 million additional chipsets to be sold during the year, making this business profitable for the company. But Qualcomm, of course, is sad about this, but the strongest survives and offers the best solution.
The operating system was named Wear, the word OS was dropped. Not God knows what kind of rebranding, but it’s still an attempt to start life from a new page. It’s hard to imagine that the new-old name will get rid of the burden of Wear OS problems.
The question remains open to what extent Google will be able to change its OS, how key changes in the interface will become. If nothing happens, which is unlikely, then subsequent models from Samsung will fall sharply in sales, will not be perceived as an adequate replacement for old models, the latter will sharply grow. But in the absence of production of old models, they will gradually disappear from the market.
In my opinion, here we will see a certain compromise, when Wear at least externally resembles Tizen. As a curious thing, I note that now the OneUI interface approach, which was the same for all devices, is being destroyed. Smart watches for Samsung will be a product that is created by designers in a different concept. But that is judging by the way things work today. Most likely, all manufacturers will be able to customize the interface for themselves, which means that the same OneUI will remain, it will simply replace the Wear interface.
The main question that will require practical study is the operating time of Wear and devices on this system. If it remains the same or as close as possible to Tizen devices, then buyers will not be outraged, they will not particularly notice the difference. But if there are differences, then a lot of negativity will appear.
An additional incentive for Samsung to develop a unified system was the medical functions of smartwatches. Google is preparing a number of services that will be focused on smartwatches, Samsung can develop them independently, but this will require high costs that will not pay off based on current sales. In order for such developments to justify themselves, the company needs to sell 20-25 million smartwatches annually, and this is the minimum. At the same time, it is a strategic direction for Google, and the company invests in it with ease. In the next announcement of the Galaxy Watch, one should not expect anything significant in this area, we will see the first developments here only in September-October 2022.
It turns out that in an attempt to revive Google’s Wear, Samsung is responsible for the hardware, partly for the software. The combination of companies in an attempt to create a new quality of smartwatches is also a response to the challenges that have happened in the market. On the one hand, there is the watch market leader – Apple. On the other hand, Huawei has relied on an RTOS system where there is no installation of additional software, only those functions that come out of the box. But this is enough for many, and the gain is more battery life in a couple of weeks from a single charge, and a lower cost of the device. And such solutions are gaining more and more popularity. The friendship between Google and Samsung in this case is not only against Apple, but also against the same Huawei, which falls out of Google’s sphere of influence due to the sanctions.
Samsung said the current smartwatch models on Tizen will receive support for three years, which is not bad. But you should not take this cooperation as forever predetermined. If something goes wrong, Samsung will be able to return to its system with relative ease, there are no obstacles for this. In the past, the company ditched Google just as easily.
How do you assess this agreement, do you think that Wear is worse in absentia than Tizen? How do you feel about this news? Share your opinion in the comments.
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